The title choice is doubtful for this chess book for beginners. Beat That Kid in Chess gives practically no emphasis on winning a game against a child. In that sense, it resembles the book How to Beat Your Dad at Chess, which is not really about how to win against your father. Book titles can be chosen for marketing purposes, yet the value of these two books on chess, in their insides, are not diminished by the narrow ranges suggested by the two titles. So let’s look at what’s inside the first book, after we look at the back cover. (How to Beat Your Dad at Chess may be covered in a future post.)
It says, “This is the best book for the early beginner.” Considering the many thousands of books written about chess, that may appear questionable: standard marketing hype. Yet the vast majority of those thousands of publications have been written not for the novice, what the author of this one calls a “raw beginner,” but for tournament players. Even the books that appear to be for beginners are actually for mid-level or advanced beginners, competitors who have had a little experience playing chess.
What is a “Raw” or “Early” Beginner?
According to the introduction in Beat That Kid in Chess, “If you know the chess rules but almost nothing about how to win, this book is for you.” Later in the introduction it says:
Take the lessons in this book seriously and your ability to play chess may advance further than if you had struggled through losing twenty games. It might not take the place of seriously struggling through eighty games, however, for over-the-board experience teaches in its own way.
That suggests this book is meant for the chess beginner who has played only a few games, if any, perhaps losing every one. Regardless of how many games the reader has played, however, the introduction seems to say that the purpose of the book is to raise the skill level of a raw beginner, enabling him or her to soon defeat other early beginners.
Nearly-Identical Positions (or NIP)
One approach that may be unique to this chess book for beginners is the use of diagrams showing positions that resemble one or more other positions in the book. The “nearly-identical positions” are not for the convenience of the author but are a systematic way for training the eye of the reader to see tactical possibilities.
This new method of training is not easy to duplicate in face-to-face chess tutoring with a demonstration board. It’s actually more conducive to book learning. Perhaps the best use of this method, in Beat That Kid in Chess, is in the advanced exercises at the end of the book. Some of the positions are similar to others, although they are separated by a few pages. That separation makes the method more effective.
What’s the point of using nearly-identical positions in chess training? It sidesteps the natural weakness in almost all chess books, the tendency for the student to accidentally memorize a particular tactic or theme by recognizing irrelevant general characteristics in chess positions. For example, a particular shape of the pawn structures for white and black—that pattern may be irrelevant to the knight fork in a puzzle. Once the student has accidentally memorized that general appearance, however, the kind of calculations needed for finding that combination are not exercised: The mental process that should be used in finding the solution is short-circuited by that accidental memorization of irrelevant features of the position. In the worst case, a short series of chess puzzles will soon become almost worthless, if nearly-identical positions are absent.
Beat That Kid in Chess by Jonathan David Whitcomb
Published by Createspace on September 2, 2015 — 194 pages
$13.40 suggested retail price — paperback
The concepts taught with large chess diagrams can be understood and enjoyed by readers of a large range of ages, although the text is more appropriate for those of teenage and adults years (and some older children).
The only difference between Diagram-1 and Diagram-2 (first and second pages of the first chapter) is the addition of the black queen in the second illustration. That queen, however, prevents the checkmate.
. . . This book can take you into a level that should help you defeat many beginners, at least sometimes. In other words, you will no longer be a raw beginner and will instead be able to defeat raw beginners, at least more often than you lose.
This 194-page paperback was written with a modest goal: Teach and prepare the raw beginner to win a game of chess, even if it’s against another raw beginner.
The present study aim demonstrate of role chess training has on school performance, memory, sustained attention and creativity.
In movies, books . . . end games